Can the use of a Grade Point scale enhance the grades of Education Studies’ students? A pilot study based on the use of an alternative mark scale for a module within the Primary Education Studies programme at UWTSD

In the light of recent discussion concerning degree classification, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David has been considering the adoption of a different mark scale in place of the current percentage scale. A short pilot based on the use of an alternative mark scale (an alpha-numeric scale) was run within several faculties, including the Primary Education Studies programme 2015-6 within the School of Social Justice and Inclusion. The outcomes will inform the University’s final decision.

This paper describes the process of piloting a new mark scale in the light of a review of the University’s approach to undergraduate degree classification and the implementation of a new Student Record System. It reflects on issues including the conversion of marks and communication with Education Studies’ students and lecturers.

With no clear consensus across the Faculties, the outcomes of the pilot are identified, in terms of differences in the marks awarded and any perceived benefits such as external perception and common practice elsewhere in the HE sector. These include a greater willingness amongst staff to award higher marks when using an alpha-based scale and a recommendation to implement provision to record Grade Point Average (GPA) as a parallel marking system, in the event that this becomes standard practice in the sector.

Recommendations from the pilot project are considered as are the implications for degree classifications in the future.